The ultimate list: sources of inspiration for outdoor enthusiasts


Source: Asaf Antman (Flickr Creative Commons)

What inspires YOU to get outdoors?

Earlier this week, we asked the SportPursuit community to share with us their favourite sources of inspiration. From the movies that they watch to the people that they follow on Twitter, we wanted to find out what gets our community pumped up and raring to go.

When putting together this list, we realised that embracing the outdoors means different things to different people.  What unites all these different perspectives? It’s the spirit of adventure and the enthusiasm to get outside our comfort zones, if only a little.

Whether you’re looking for a quick work break boost or a strong nudge in an adventurous direction, there’s something in this list for everybody.  Have a source of inspiration of your own to add?  Let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page!

Read on for:

Best outdoor movies to watch

Best books about the outdoors

Top adventure and outdoor blogs

Inspiring adventurers on Twitter

Best outdoor movies to watch


1. 180 Degrees South (2010)

Inspired by the life and times of rock climbing pioneer Yvon Chouinard, young explorer Jim Johnson recreates his own version of Chouinard’s 1968 trek to Patagonia including surfing, hiking and some extreme climbing up Cerro Corvovada.

2. North of the sun (2012)

You will never look at winter the same way again after watching this. Two friends spend nine cold winter months on an isolated Arctic island surfing, foraging foods and building an epic cabin from driftwood. Check out our previous review of the film (from a viewing at the Banff Mountain Film Festival) here


3. Tell it on the Mountain (2013)

This documentary follows an eclectic mix of hikers in their varying groups at they walk 2,623 miles along the challenging Pacific Crest Trail, from the border of Mexico to the border of Canada.


4. Wolves Unleashed (2011)

Battling temperatures of -60C alongside mental and physical fatigue, Andrew Simpson and team travel to Siberia, the coldest place on earth, to make the biggest wolf film ever attempted.

5. Wampler’s Ascent (2013)

Steven Wampler’s severe form of cerebral palsy doesn’t stop him from his goal – to ascend El Capitan, the biggest rock face in the world. This involves over 20,000 pull-ups in the process. Truly inspiring and energising!


6. Walking the Camino (2013)

Various pilgrims ranging in age from 3 to 73 attempt to cross a country on foot with equipment as minimal as it gets – a backpack and a pair of boots. For these individuals, The trek to Santiago de Compostela is a journey both physical and spiritual.


7. Goold’s Gold (2011)

This offbeat and fascinating documentary follows geophysicist Jonathan Goold as he goes hunting for gold in the unlikeliest of places – Alaskan land that has been exposed by melting glaciers.

Best books about the outdoors



Source: nef_efekt (Flickr Creative Commons)

1. Touching the Void – Joe Simpson

 “Life can deal you an amazing hand. Do you play it steady, bluff like crazy or go all in?”

A nail-biting read recounting the attempt of Simpson and his comrade Yates’ successful (but very almost fatal) climb of the 6,344 metre Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes during the 80s.

2. The Hills are Stuffed with Swedish Girls – Richard Happer

“You can’t walk the West Highland Way in plimsolls”

3 dysfunctional friends and a cat embark on the West Highland Way to help fix a broken heart. A lighthearted adventure and travelogue that will keep you laughing out loud.

3. A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson

“If there’s one thing the AT teaches, it is low-level ecstasy – something we could all do with more of in our lives”

Bryson’s account of his attempt to walk the longest continuous footpath in the world – the Appalachian Trail. Bryson and his friend are underprepared and overburdened, but they give it a good go.

4. Before They’re Gone – Michael Lanza

“Powerful landscapes like the Tetons will manhandle your psyche; they can make you wonder what the hell you’ve been doing all these years”

A true outdoors lover concerned by climate change, Michael Lanza takes his two children to as many climate-threatened places in the US that he can in a year. Adventures include hiking in Yosemite, rock climbing in Joshua Tree and even canoeing in The Everglades.

5. Jungle – Yossi Ghinsberg

“Nothing is mundane, it is all a miracle”

An incredible true-life survival story that is hard to put down – four unrelated backpackers get lost in the biggest jungle of South America, the Amazon rainforest.

6. The Old Ways – Robert Macfarlane

“To make an impression is also to receive one, and the soles of our feet, shaped by the surfaces they press upon, are landscapes themselves with their own worn channels and roving lines”

Macfarlane chronicles his numerous journeys on foot across the British Isles, Spain, Palestine and Tibet. He expertly weaves his current exploration of the paths with the history and old tales that precede them.

7. The Shadow of Kilimanjaro – Rick Ridgeway

“I came to realize the best journeys are ones that answer questions which at the outset you never thought to ask”

Rick Ridgeway travels East Africa on foot starting from the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro and ending at the Indian Ocean with all the expected (and unexpected) danger, challenge and excitement that makes an engrossing adventure. A great mix of action and history.

Top adventure and outdoor blogs


Source: Eric (Flickr Creative Commons)

1. Leon McCarron

You don’t need to look much further than Leon for some serious adventure inspiration. His feats have included a 3000 mile walk across China and crossing 1000 miles of the Empty Quarter desert, pulling a cart load of supplies along with him.

Start with this blog post:

5 reasons why you should try a walking journey

Also, don’t miss out on this seriously stunning footage featuring Leon and his comrade Alastair Humphreys (#2 on our list) crossing the Empty Quarter together!

2. Alastair Humphreys

A pioneer of the term microadventure, Humphreys believes that adventure is only a state of mind and is about doing what you don’t normally do. His pursuits have included completing the 150 mile Marathon de Sables and crossing Iceland though a combination of walking and packrafting.

Start with this blog post:

Adventure is out there

Ready for your own microadventure?  Don’t miss out on this clip of Humphreys’ 5 to 9 microadventure in Milton Keynes.

3. Beyond the Edge

This is National Geographic’s adventure blog. Expect top quality photography, videos and writing. A great source from adventure inspiration from all around the world.

Start with this blog post:

Surviving New Zealand’s hardest hike

4. Andy Kirkpatrick

Described by Climbing magazine as a climber with a “strange penchant for the long, the cold and the difficult,” Andy is driven by breaking his own personal barriers. His enthusiam is contagious – don’t be surprised if reading his blog makes you want to scale the closest mountain face.

Start with this blog post:

The real world

Want a glimpse into Andy’s outrageous adventures?  Check out his 50 days in Queen Maud Land Antarctica!

5. Adventure Journal

A treasure trove of cool videos, pictures and interesting essays, Adventure Journal is a one-stop destination to indulge your wanderlust and yearning for the outdoors.

Start with this blog post:

The hierarchy of camping

6. Chris Townsend

An opinionated outdoor writer with a penchant for writing and photogprahy, check out Chris’ epic pics of wilderness and the mountains.

Start with this blog post:

Controversy 1: Smartphones & GPS in the hills

7. Never Stop Exploring

The official blog of The North Face athletes and community. With its great visuals and expertly written advice, this is a top destination for lovers of the outdoors.

Start with this blog post:

Exploring the nature connection with Heidi Wirtz

Inspiring adventurers on Twitter


1. Ed Stafford (@Ed_Stafford)

The first person to walk the Amazon River and Discovery Channel Presenter. A continuous stream of impressive feats and inspiring tweets.


2. Bear Grylls (@BearGrylls)

TV’s busiest and most famous adventurer dispenses words of wisdom and keeps you up to date with his latest adventures.

3. Dave Cornthwaite (@DaveCorn)

Consistently inspiring tweets from the self-proclaimed “strawberry blond adventurer.” Dave loves to get outside via any means possible. A previous SportPursuit member of the month, Dave’s enthusiasm for the outdoors is contagious. Check out our interview with him here!


4. Daniel Wildey (@DanWildeyPhoto)

Outstanding adventure and travel photographer. Twitter stream likely to inspire wanderlust and improving one’s photography skills.


5. Pen Hadow (@PenHadow)

Polar explorer whose awe-inspring feats include trekking solo from Canada to the North Geographic Pole and climbing Everest without oxygen supplies. His tweets are just as inspiring!


6. Ben Saunders (@polarben)

A steady stream of motivating tweets from the man who broke the record for longest ever polar journey on foot.


7. Sophie Radcliffe (@challengesophie)

Sophie has an unbridled enthusiasm for exploring the adventures of life, from climbing Mont Blanc to cycling London to Paris numerous times. She is also a SportPursuit Champion. Read her popular blog post on how to stay motivated to exercise here! Expect more useful tips on her Twitter feed!

As we reach the end of our ultimate list, we want to leave you with one final dose of video inspiration, featuring a profound speech from the late Alan Watts.  Get outside and do something, anything – we’re rooting for you!

Want to add to our ultimate list? If it inspires you, we want to hear about it. Let us know in the comments below!